Getting in the Mood

I’ve recently started using Pinterest and I’m really enjoying it. Having been to Art College, I’m a visual person, and definitely always learn better if I can see something. Just lately I’ve been setting some important scenes in Havana, which I visited a while ago, and looking at images has almost been like going on holiday. AlmostHa ha.

So now that my story has returned to Norfolk, I put together a Pinterest board of the images that have inspired me while I write. Here’s the link.

I also tried making a Mood Board to reflect the feel of my novel The Dare Club – I think I succeeded to a certain extent, although it was quite difficult to find images that reflected what the characters look like inside my head after the event.


Aleysha from The Dare Club

I suppose the best way to do it would be to start with image before I write! Though I have to admit, when I’m reading, I don’t need to be told much about what a character looks like in order to form an idea myself. Maybe that comes back to me being a visual person, I don’t know. Anyway, when I’m writing, I have to try and bear in mind that some people do like to be given physical information about characters.

How about you? Are you happy to mostly make up your own mind what characters look like? Or do you prefer a guiding hand?


Available from Amazon.



Plunging into Cuba

I’m about to plunge into research about Havanna and Cuba in order to write some scenes for my upcoming novel, Taming Tom Jones. I visited Cuba in 2001, and had an amazing adventure holiday there, so I’ve already got some insight into the country. On that holiday I made a good friend – Sharon, who lives in London. Sometimes you meet people you just hit it off with right away – Sharon is one of these people. We met up last Thursday before I went to The London Author Fair on Friday, and it was great to catch up – we always have lots of laughs! This time, with the scenes I was about to write in mind, I turned the conversation to Cuba – and we shared lots of memories about the holiday we had there – the sights we saw and the experiences we had. And the silly pranks we played, including making ‘Castro moustaches’ out of fluffy catkin seeds stuck onto double-sided sticky tape. We dared each other to wear them and to pretend nothing was different. Strangely, it took people quite a while to comment! Daft, but great fun at the time – we laughed so much we cried.

I wish I had a photo I could show you, but that was before the digital age. Anyway, as I began my research yesterday, I came across these amazing images of Cuban murals of older people – I loved them because they really seemed to celebrate older people, and to suggest that they are respected. How wonderful!


Reaching the Heights Then Tarzan-swinging off Them!

Huzzah! I successfully completed the Tree Top Challenge at Go Ape yesterday!

Here’s me before the start, looking very unglamorous next to an ape sculpture.


I’m very proud of myself because I did the whole course, not even chickening out at the very scary Tarzan Swing plummet. There was an easier option here, and I nearly succumbed to its temptation – it was only the encouragement of my partner and total strangers around me that made me do it! Thanks, guys!

I’m relieved that, physically, I only have slightly aching arms to show for it all.  🙂

Here’s the certificate, as proof!




I did it as research for The Dare Club – the book I’m writing. My characters, who meet at a divorced and separated course, are challenging themselves to do things they find scary. It’s partly a distraction, to stop them thinking about their changed circumstances, but they also just want to test themselves to see what they can do. And have fun too, of course!

I could never have imagined what it would feel like to do The Tree Top Challenge without having done it. Obviously, I thought it would be frightening at times, and I hoped it would be exhilarating too. The pre-course training was excellent and inspired confidence as far as it could – all essential details for writing about it.

Here’s me, post training, setting off for the tree tops!


There’s nothing like the reality of taking your first leap off a platform towards a Tarzan net and then finding out that you need quite a lot of strength in your arms to climb up to the next platform (and not been completely sure that you have enough strength to do it…) Or walking across a bit of flimsy rope high up in the sky. Fortunately, I’m not scared of heights, and this is obviously a distinct advantage!



Another good thing is that I never need do the Tree Top Challenge again! But I think I’ve certainly developed a taste for challenging myself. It makes you feel really alive when you successfully achieve something scary – something a bit out of your comfort zone.

My next challenge for The Dare Club is to imagine my characters turning up at Go Ape. How will they be feeling? Will one of them emerge as a natural leader? Will they work well together as a group? I don’t think I’ll make it easy for them. I think they might get lost on the way and turn up at the last minute in a fraught state, blaming each other for being late. Something like that. My partner and I were so worried about being late, we had an hour and a half to kill. Yes, an hour and a half! That’s seriously punctual, and very dull, I realize! Ha ha!

Bring on the next challenge! I’m ready!

Book Research – how far would you go?

In the name of research for my novel The Dare club, I have just booked to go to Go Ape to do their Tree Top Challenge in a couple of weeks time. Now I’m not scared of heights, but I’m not exactly the muscle-bound fitness freak type of person either. My exercise is generally restricted to taking the dog out between bouts of typing at my my desk. And it’s not that I haven’t got a good imagination, because I think I have – my stint at the comedy club kind of proved that for me. I don’t know where half that stuff came from! But… I’m not sure how well I could write about the challenge of hurtling through the air high up in the treetops on a Tarzan swing unless I’d done it.

OK, so my characters could dare each other to knit the world’s longest scarf, but it doesn’t pack the same kind of punch, does it? I wanted to have a go at abseiling  and I might yet. But the only opportunity I could find in the next few weeks was a sponsored challenge to abseil down a 150 metre tower in Norwich, and as I’ve never done it before, that seemed a little too much. I mean, I’m not mad.

Or am I? I’ll let you know!

What lengths have you gone to in the name of research? I’d love to know.